Issue Position: Education - Strengthening America's Schools
Today, John McCain Outlined His Vision For Strengthening Education To Ensure Opportunity For Every American. John McCain's education policy removes needless bureaucracy, empowers parents, teachers and principals and ensures that every child has the opportunity to gain from a quality education.
John McCain's Education Principles:
John McCain Will Enact Meaningful Reform In Education. Now is the time to demand real, new reform earned through discipline, grinding work, tough choices and leadership. John McCain has dedicated his career in public service to the hard and sometimes unpopular work of achieving meaningful reform.
The Education System Must Provide For Equality Of Choice. Too many of our children are trapped by geography and by economics in failing schools.
We Must Empower Parents. Involved and empowered parents and excellent teachers are the two greatest determining factors in a child's education. If we are to succeed, we must empower committed parents with critical knowledge about their child's performance, and empower them with real and meaningful choices to act upon that knowledge.
We Must Empower Teachers. If America is to truly reform public education and make good on the promise of individual freedom and independence through knowledge, we must ensure that every child has the opportunity to be inspired and motivated to achieve their potential by a strong classroom leader.
John McCain's Education Policy:
John McCain Will Build On The Lessons Of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). There should be an emphasis on standards and accountability. However, our goal cannot be group averages. Instead, our focus should be to inspire every child to strive to reach his or her potential. While NCLB has been invaluable in providing a clear picture of which schools and students are struggling, it is only the beginning of education reform.
John McCain Will Provide Effective Education Leadership. John McCain is committed to high standards and accountability, but he is also committed to providing the resources needed to succeed. He believes we should invest in people, parents and reward achievement.
John McCain Will Work To Ensure That Our Children Have Quality Teachers. The single biggest challenge in turning around a failing school is getting quality teachers into that school. To overcome this challenge, John McCain will:
Encourage Alternative Certification Methods That Open The Door For Highly Motivated Teachers To Enter The Field. John McCain will devote five percent of Title II funding to states to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class or who participate in an alternative teacher recruitment program such as Teach for America, the New York City Teaching Fellowship Program, the New Teacher Project, or excellent university initiatives.
Provide Bonuses For Teachers Who Locate In Underperforming Schools And Demonstrate Strong Leadership As Measured By Student Improvement. John McCain will devote 60 percent of Title II funding for incentive bonuses for high performing teachers to locate in the most challenging educational settings, for teachers to teach subjects like math and science, and for teachers who demonstrate student improvement. Payments will be made directly to teachers. Funds should also be devoted to provide performance bonuses to teachers who raise student achievement and enhance the school-wide learning environment. Principals may also consider other issues in addition to test scores such as peer evaluations, student subgroup improvements, or being removed from the state's "in need of improvement" list.
Provide Funding For Needed Professional Teacher Development. Where federal funds are involved, teacher development money should be used to enhance the ability of teachers to perform in today's technology driven environment. We need to provide teachers with high quality professional development opportunities with a primary focus on instructional strategies that address the academic needs of their students. The first 35 percent of Title II funding would be directed to the school level so principals and teachers could focus these resources on the specific needs of their schools.
John McCain Believes We Must Empower School Principals With Greater Control Over Spending. Funding cannot be effectively apportioned in Washington, but it shouldn't be a state-level official or district bureaucrat either. The money must be controlled by the leader we hold accountable: the school principal with a single criterion to raise student achievement.
John McCain Will Make Real The Promise Of NCLB By Giving Parents Greater Choice. Choice is the best way to protect children against a failing bureaucracy. But parents must have more control over the money.
John McCain Will Expand The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. In our nation's capital, we have seen the dramatic benefits of giving parents control of money and choices. The Opportunity Scholarship program serves more than 1,900 students from families with an average income of $23,000 a year. More than 7,000 more families have applied for that program. The budget for the Opportunity Scholarships is currently $13 million. John McCain believes that this extremely successful program should expand to at least $20 million benefiting nearly a thousand more families.
John McCain Will Ensure Children Struggling To Meet State Standards Will Have Immediate Access To High Quality Tutoring Programs. Local school districts can certify education service providers but providers can also bypass the local bureaucracy and receive direct federal certification. Education service providers can then market directly to parents. Title I money will be directed straight to the provider.
John McCain Supports Expanding Virtual Learning By Reforming The "Enhancing Education Through Technology Program." John McCain will target $500 million in current federal funds to build new virtual schools and support the development of online course offerings for students. These courses may be for regular coursework, for enhancement, or for dual enrollment into college.
John McCain Will Allocate $250 Million Through A Competitive Grant Program To Support States That Commit To Expanding Online Education Opportunities. States can use these funds to build virtual math and science academies to help expand the availability of AP Math, Science, and Computer Sciences courses, online tutoring support for students in traditional schools, and foreign language courses.
John McCain Will Offer $250 Million For Digital Passport Scholarships To Help Students Pay For Online Tutors Or Enroll In Virtual Schools. Low-income students will be eligible to receive up to $4,000 to enroll in an online course, SAT/ACT prep course, credit recovery or tutoring services offered by a virtual provider. Providers could range from other public schools, virtual charter schools, home school parents utilizing virtual schooling resources or district or state sponsored virtual schools. The Department of Education would competitively award the funds to a national scholarship administrator who would manage the student applications, monitoring, and evaluation of providers.